- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Peter Shawn Taylor, a writer for Canada’s National Post newspaper, referred to Ottawa’s plan to ban lead fishing sinkers to save Canada’s loons as “sinking science.” After all, the annual death toll of loons that swallowed lead sinkers and perhaps died from ingesting such ungainly objects is six, at least according to several independent surveys.

As the cold season arrives in the Canadian provinces, this could be the last year in which lead sinkers will be permitted.

Taylor recently wrote that the federal government is proposing to ban lead tackle and force fishermen to find more expensive alternatives. Even non-anglers, he said, should be concerned with how and why the government is making this decision.

Taylor and a host of Canadian sport fishing specialists accused their government of using junk science.

“Whimsy and fabrication have replaced science in setting environmental policies,” wrote Taylor, who said the government and the environmental group that spearheaded the crusade, the World Wildlife Fund, claim the move is necessary to save Canadian loons from lead poisoning.

Taylor said the evidence suggests the size and danger of the lead-sinker issue has been grotesquely exaggerated.

“And if the Liberals are prepared to pervert scientific evidence in order to justify new laws for picayune issues [like] fishing tackle, what does this suggest for bigger and more significant policies?” he asked.

It all goes back to 1991 when the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service banned lead shotgun pellets because of some evidence they found their way into lakes and rivers and were then ingested by water birds, causing lead poisoning in loons. In 1997 Canada followed suit and banned lead shot used by hunters.

It appears the success on the lead shot ban only prompted animal rights activists to go one step further. The lead threat was used to fuel anti-fishing feelings. If it made sense to ban lead shotgun pellets, then it must make sense to ban lead fishing sinkers, they felt.

Never mind that the sinkers are retrieved and used over and over again. No, if there’s a remote chance a broken-off lead sinker can be ingested by a bird, then it must be outlawed.

What’s next? Birds occasionally try to eat fishing lures (just ask any sea gull in the Chesapeake Bay); will they be next on the outlaw list?

Experience crimson oaks — The Appalachian Trail Conservancy has picked the top 10 vistas for autumn glory, a family-friendly guide that offers tips on how to find glorious fall colors along the Appalachian Trail. The ATC said, “Each year as the weather begins to cool, many families flock to the woods to get a glimpse of spectacular fall foliage. This fall [we] invite families to join the journey along the world’s most famous hiking trail with the release of its free guide, Appalachian Trail Fall Foliage: A Hiker’s Guide to Autumn’s Peak Colors.”

The foliage guide to the trail’s one-of-a-kind footpaths pinpoints the best locations across nine states for families to enjoy autumn. From Andover, Maine, to Springer Mountain, Georgia, the guide provides all that’s needed to enjoy peak leaf-turning action.

The guide is based on average dates of peak color and is arranged into 10 sections running the length of the 2,100-mile trail.

You can download a PDF version of the one-page guide from the ATC Web site, www.appalachiantrail.org.

Fall and winter trouting — Trout fishing doesn’t stop because the cold months are coming. With that in mind, the National Capital Chapter of Trout Unlimited invites the public to come to its monthly meeting tonight at 8 at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Service Center, adjacent to the Bethesda Metro. Special guest Jay Sheppard, a retired biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and a well-respected local trout angler for more than 30 years, will cover most of the regional waters within a day-trip where trout can be caught this fall and winter. For directions, go to www.NCC-TU.org or call 202-966-7555.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report on Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com

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